Explosions in the Sky

The Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC, September 4

Explosions in the SkyThe Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC, September 4
Photo: Kim Jay
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Post-rock veterans Explosions in the Sky depend on the concept of musical scale and grandeur. They rely on the kinds of audiences that can submit with abandon to an experience that operates on an entirely instrumental and epic scale. Explosions in the Sky's first album in four years, The Wilderness, is cinematic and wonderfully over-the-top on its own, but the fact that the group can translate that recording onto the stage is impressive to say the least. 

The Commodore was sold out on the first night of the group's two-show stint on the Canadian West Coast, though Vancouver's typical lacklustre attitude kept the audience's responses to a very dull roar. There was no moshing and very minimal jumping, but Explosions in the Sky were on a planet of their own, feeding off of each other's perfected, finely-tuned astral sounds from the very first riffs of opener "Wilderness" to the nearly orchestral "The Only Moment We Were Alone". 

The Wilderness is a grandiose departure from the kind of music that was so famously featured on the TV show Friday Night Lights, opting for an escapist sound that takes their reputation for building atmosphere to explosive new heights. 

The Wilderness is full of crescendos and climaxes that toy with the listener, pulling them to one side of the musical landscape and then picking them up and throwing them aggressively to the other. With those sudden halts and drops brought to life on stage, Explosions in the Sky gave the Commodore audience a sense of waves crashing, and not in a peaceful "namaste" sort of way.

By Explosions in the Sky's third song, a sudden sweep into "The Ecstatics," the show got more percussive. From there, the setlist was a somber mixture of the old and the new, from "Logic of a Dream" to "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" — the latter a thirteen-minute vibrating guitar extravaganza. Sunday night's concert came across as an unstoppable single piece of music.

The lack of singing allowed the musicians to fully immerse themselves in their instruments, specifically the army of guitars cultivating a desperately loud and emotional wall of sound. With barely a word said and nearly every note possible played, Explosions in the Sky left ears ringing and fans both new and old impressed.
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